Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta says he is ready to “take the bullets” for his side’s poor form ahead of their clash with Southampton on Wednesday.
Defeat at home to Burnley on Sunday left Arsenal 15th in the Premier League, just five points clear of the relegation zone and without a league win since November 1.
The 1-0 reverse, in which Granit Xhaka was sent off and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scored an own goal, means Arsenal have lost four home league games for the first time since 1959.
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Arteta has shouldered the full blame for Arsenal’s seventh defeat in their opening 12 Premier League matches – calling on critics to fire all their shots at him as the manager.
“I feel the pressure all the time,” said Arteta. “When we had those [good] spells [last season], everything was not beautiful. In the last few months of last summer there were a lot of difficult moments, believe me. It wasn’t everything nice and easy and enjoyable.
“But obviously when you are winning you create a different mood and then the pressure once you win is to win again. And the pressure is always going to exist.
“I prefer that pressure when you are always thinking about winning and going into the next trophy. But this is our reality right now and we have to face it.
“And we have to face it being brave, fighting and no-one giving up or anything because it is no time to hide, it’s time to put your face and your body on the line. At the moment, I’m sorry, but we have to take the bullets.
“We are not winning football matches and you have to put your chest out [and say] ‘hit me because you have the right to hit me because I’m not winning’.
“So what else can I do? Put my head down, work harder and try to do things better and improve. It’s how we have to approach things in my opinion.”
When asked if he was the man to take the bullets, Arteta added: “It’s natural, I accept it. It’s part of the job.
“When you are not getting results, at the end of the day it’s the manager who has the maximum responsibility.
“That’s why I accept them, because you can say whatever you want to explain but at the end you have to win football matches and this club is too big to accept this many losses in the last weeks.
“So my chest is here, hit me guys.”